A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, October 14.
DEVOLUTION: REACHING OUR FULL POTENTIAL
Norfolk and Suffolk are at our best when we are innovative and bold. Traditionally, we have been a great draw for holiday makers and been known for great companies in financial services, in food, drink and agriculture, in manufacturing and in offshore energy production.
Today, we have developed great strengths in culture, clean, renewable energy, in ICT and digital technologies, in life and bio sciences and have many technology start-ups across both counties. All of this is underpinned by world class universities.
This has happened and we have lost none of our traditional strengths or our vibrant local identities.
We have many of the components in place for a modern and exciting place to live, work and learn.
But we can and should go further.
This sentiment is echoed in a recent survey where people across the two counties told us: remove the barriers to joined up Government; connect us better; help us to move around more efficiently and let us have a say over decisions that affect our lives. Furthermore, almost 100 businesses and business organisations, representing more than 82,000 employees with an annual turnover in excess of £8 billion (more than 25 per cent of the area’s entire GVA), signed letters urging Government, the LEP and local authorities to support and implement the deal.
A better connected and more prosperous future for Norfolk and Suffolk is the reason why we are supporting a plan for Government to hand more powers and funding to Norfolk and Suffolk. The plan will take decision-making and accountability away from Whitehall and put it into the hands of local people.
In the first wave of these devolved powers we have secured:
n £750 million over 30 years to underpin investment in creating higher paid jobs, in helping our businesses expand, in new road and rail links, coastal defences and in better broadband and phone services.
n £130 million for much-needed affordable homes for young, old and key workers, in our rural and urban areas, including special arrangements where the need is most acute in our larger cities and towns.
n £25 million to improve the skills and life chances in the workforce of today and tomorrow encouraging them to stay with us and help us improve further.
n £225 million for investment in local transport.
These are priority areas that were, unsurprisingly, reflected in the survey results. If we go ahead a new Combined Authority (councils working together more efficiently) and Mayor will democratically work with local leaders to generate a bottom up plan and set of priorities that reflect the needs of local people, businesses and places across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The Mayor and Combined Authority will not necessarily lead to an additional layer of Government – but accelerate our councils working more effectively together, saving time and money. The Mayor will work as part of a team alongside our MPs, our local authorities and our business leaders to champion our area nationally and internationally. This is just the start and we will look to secure more devolved powers, responsibilities and funding as our new relationship with Government develops.
We want to shine a light on the great people, places and business we have across our two counties.
We want to be a truly international economy, competing and winning in the UK and global marketplace, and deserve to be at the top table with places such as Cambridge and Peterborough, the North West and West Midlands. Government have been clear with us – “You have real potential, fantastic people and wonderful places. Why not create the right arrangements locally so we can give you the opportunity to take decisions locally, support those decisions with money to spend and go on to realise your potential?”
Norfolk and Suffolk can be even greater places to live, work and learn, that is what local businesses and people deserve. As local authorities approach landmark decisions on behalf of the future of people and places in Norfolk and Suffolk we, the elected representatives, local authorities, and businesses of the area, wanted to reiterate our support for this opportunity to help our people, places and businesses reach their full potential.
-- Peter Aldous MP, Waveney; Richard Bacon MP, South Norfolk;James Cartlidge MP, South Suffolk; Jo Churchill MP, Bury St Edmunds; Therese Coffey MP, Suffolk Coastal; George Freeman MP, Mid Norfolk; Ben Gummer MP, Ipswich; Matthew Hancock MP, West Suffolk; Norman Lamb MP, North Norfolk; Brandon Lewis MP, Great Yarmouth; Daniel Poulter MP, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich; Keith Simpson MP, Broadland; Elizabeth Truss MP, South West Norfolk; Vicky Ford MEP, East of England; Andrew Proctor, Broadland DC; Cliff Jordan, Norfolk CC; Brian Long, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk BC; John Fuller, South Norfolk Council; Colin Law, Waveney DC; Colin Noble, Suffolk CC; David Ellesmere, IpswichBC; James Waters, Forest Heath DC; Jennie Jenkins, Babergh DC; John Griffiths, St Edmundsbury BC; Nick Gowrley, Mid Suffolk DC; Ray Herring, Suffolk Coastal DC; Mark Pendlington; New Anglia LEP; Caroline Williams, Norfolk Chamber; John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber; Andy Wood, Independent Chair of the leaders
UK WILL LOSE ITS INFLUENCE
I am writing to urge readers to contemplate the direction of travel in the current Brexit discussions.
Following a campaign characterised by complete lies from the Leave campaign and a disastrous Remain campaign that concentrated on scare tactics, the people of Britain voted that they would like to leave the EU by a very small minority in the vote and only 37 per cent of eligible voters actually voted to leave.
The people did not vote to leave the vital single market, eliminate immigration, foster an inwardly looking country or undermine the sovereignty of Parliament. However, for her own short-term political gains, Theresa May, who is unelected, has decided if we can re-interpret the referendum to turn Britain into a nasty, intolerant and isolated economic backwater that will be for the good of the country.
I would urge readers to react to this direction of travel, which I am sure is not supported by the vast majority of the population, and especially the future generations who stand to lose the most, and put pressure on their elected representatives now before it is too late. Make no mistake, a hard Brexit will be bad for the economy, bad for the tolerant society and extremely bad for Britain, which will lose the huge levels of influence worldwide that it currently enjoys.
-- Jerome Walls, Rougham
WHERE TO LEAVE LOST PROPERTY?
I was interested in the article concerning the person who had found a gold-coloured locket (Letters, October 7).
We do have issues with lost property in Bury as there is nowhere to take it – this is from my experience when finding a wallet with considerable amount of cash and cards.
The wallet I picked up in the street close to the bus station was an issue for me as the bus station office is now closed, enquiries at the tourist information could not help only to suggest I take it to the police station.
Having walked to the Raingate Street Police station I was then advised by there staff that they no longer take lost property.
Asking what they could suggest I do with the cash and cards they then decided to relieve me of the wallet and would attempt to trace the owner themselves. They did not take my details but I would liked to have known if the owner is in receipt of his wallet.
Lost property in “Our Bury St. Edmunds” where do you take it?
-- Peter Utting, via email